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New obstacles for deaf TN wrestler

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For Throggs Neck wrestler David Cardona, overcoming his hearing-impairment to achieve success on the mat has been a constant struggle with great rewards. 

Having taken first place at the New York State Private Schools Wrestling Tournament in the 162-pound weight class earlier this year, Cardona continues to reach new echelons in the sport, most recently realizing a dream of representing the United States at the 2008 Deaf Olympics. 

“I am very thrilled to represent, not just my country, but the Bronx and deaf people from the Bronx at the Olympics this year,” said the just turned 19-year-old wrestling prodigy.  “I only tried out, hoping I would learn something.  I never expected that I would make the team.  I hope I get the opportunity to compete.”

Unfortunately, a new obstacle may prevent Cardona from fully realizing his potential.   A resident of Throggs Neck Houses, Cardona lacks the funds necessary to travel out to Yerevan, Armenia for the games, taking place from September 14-22. 

Unless Cardona find sponsors for his trip, the gifted athlete who has never let anything get in his way before, will have to sit back and watch a dream go unfulfilled.

“He has until the end of August to raise the funds,” says his proud sister Latasha Cardona, who has been working tirelessly to allay her brother’s needs.  “He has come from nothing and I really think he can make something of himself.  It would just be heartbreaking if he was not able to go.”

A student at the Lexington School for the Deaf, David first set out to compete in the Olympics earlier this year on a trip to Idaho.  While considered a great wrestler, neither David nor his family thought he was experienced enough to make the team. 

“He came back with a smile on his face,” said Jean, his mother.  “He just went to try out.  We never expected this.”

During a tournament set up to select members of the team, David won first place in freestyle wrestling and second place in Greco-Roman Style Wrestling. 

“We were just so proud of him,” Jean said.  “Then the reality set in.  How are we going to get him there?”

The Cardona family has set up an appointment with former Assemblyman Stephen Kaufman, who they hope can help them.  They are also looking at local elected leaders, area businesses and concerned residents who may be interested in helping. 

“Every little bit helps,” Jean said. 

But the fact that he may not make it is a very real possibility, one David is dealing surprisingly well with. 

“I would love to get sponsors, but I know money is hard to come by,” he said.  “I’m still learning of ways to make that money myself.  But if I don’t make it, I will just have more time to practice.  I will learn more and hopefully, my chance will come again.  I will make sure I save money for next time.”

His attitude doesn’t surprise his family.  Having just celebrated his birthday this weekend, his mom says David had already told his family that they did not need to get him a gift. 

“He’s just a wonderful person,” Latasha exclaimed.  “He’s athletic, really smart and very outgoing.  That’s hard to come by in a deaf person.  He’s one of a kind and I just want to see him happy.”

If he does get the sponsors he needs, David plans to perform to his utmost capabilities.  “I would want to show them that I was worth it and I would work hard for all of them,” he said.  “To know that someone would give of themselves to help me realize my dream; that would motivate me to win even more.”

For more information on how to help David Cardona, call (347) 264-4000 or (718) 409-2269. 

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